Out of the fourteen mountains that measure over 8,000 meters in the world, nine of them are partially or entirely in Nepal. For this reason Nepal has become the dream destination for avid trekkers all over the globe.
But what about if you're new to trekking? Are you a reasonably fit person who wants to give mountaineering a go? If this sounds like you, then lace up your boots and head straight for Annapurna, Nepal! Read on to find out why.
If you are in good health and reasonably fit, there are plenty of hikes that you will be capable of completing with ease
A lot of people are under the false impression that trekking the Himalayas is an activity reserved for hardcore mountaineers only. This couldn't be further from the case. The range of hikes on offer in Annapurna (and Nepal in general) are so varied in terms of difficulty and duration that there truly is something for everyone. Any healthy teenager or adult will be able to find a trek that suits their abilities.
Even after two months straight of stuffing my face in India and exercising very little, I was still able to ascend 3,210 meters over two days without too much difficulty. If I can do it, you can!
Hiring your own guide is easy and affordable, meaning you can tailor your trek perfectly to your interests, fitness and time frame
Because we were short on time, we chose to hire a personal guide rather than take a tour to ensure that we got to do create our own itinerary and do exactly what we wanted. We went through a local company based in Pokhara and hired a guide to take us to Ghorepani Poon Hill (3,210m) in two days, instead of the usual four-five days. Since we were all young and relatively fit, we knew that our pace would be above average and this time constraint wouldn't be a problem.
I can't recommend hiring your own guide highly enough. Had we not taken this option and gone with a tour, we would have been restricted by departure dates and other people's pace. Between three of us, hiring our own guide only set us back about $60 AUD each.
Some people like to book guides in advance, but for this kind of beginners trek there is honestly no need. The streets in Pokhara (or any major city in Nepal) are quite literally filled with trekking companies, so you won't have any issues organising a guide when you get there. We went during the peak season in February and still had no trouble! Another reason to book when you're there instead of from home is because many of the trekking companies with fancy, international websites aren't actually based in Nepal, so your money might not be going back into the local economy if you use one of them.
If you're heading out for a trek in the Annapurna region, chances are you'll be starting and finishing in Pokhara, Nepal's second biggest city. Allow yourself a couple of days here before beginning your trek, as this city is definitely worth exploring. Two or three days will not only give you enough time to organise a guide, but will also allow you to enjoy Pokhara's delicious food scene and take in its beautiful sights. The Pokhara Shanti Stupa monument in particular is not to be missed, located on the hill overlooking the lake and the city, the forty-five minute uphill hike is well worth it for the spectacular views.
Taking a boat trip out onto Phewa Lake or going hang-gliding are some other worthwhile activities to fill your time in Pokhara.
Annapurna is the perfect balance of busy enough to be safe to be safe for beginners, but quiet enough to still get in touch with nature
Trekking in Annapurna is nicknamed "Tea House Trekking", because you will encounter so many tea houses and villages along your way. Not only is this a great excuse to rest weary feet, but it also ensures that if you fall ill or injure yourself, help will never be too far away.
Having said this, Annapurna is by no means heavily populated or overcrowded. While trekking through this area, you will still sometimes go two to three hours without coming across a village or other trekkers. These peaceful patches between towns and passers-by are the perfect opportunity to get back in touch with nature and take in the impressive surrounds.
The view from Poon Hill at sunrise
Photos don't do it justice - the view from this lookout is jaw-droopingly beautiful and has to be seen to be believed! The sheer size and magnitude of the Himalayan mountains is simply breathtaking. They are immense, and their looming presence in front of you as you wait for the sun to rise is a vision I can promise you will never forget.
Poon Hill is located at 3,210 meters above sea level and is usually a four to five day hike, but as I previously mentioned it can be done in two days depending on your starting point and fitness levels. Your guide will be able to advise you on what options will suit best based on your time frame and abilities.
If you want to ramp it up a notch, you can
Does 3,210 meters elevation not sound like enough for you? Is five days too short? Did you have something bigger in mind? Then why not challenge yourself and tackle the entire Annapurna Circuit instead?
The Annapurna Circuit traverses 160-230 kilometres, depending on which route you opt for, and will take 15-20 days depending on your fitness and the weather conditions. The highest point on the trek is at Thorang La Pass, which is 5,416 meters above sea level.
Unfortunately, when I visited Nepal I did not have the time nor the fitness levels to complete this circuit. But, what I can tell you is that my trek to Ghorepani gave me a taste for trekking and the Annapurna Circuit is now high up on my bucket list.
Nepal, I'll be back!
Have you been trekking in the Annapurna Region of Nepal before? If so, what did you think? Would you recommend this area to beginners?
Comment below and let me know!